Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Clare Thing: Clare Hart Takes a Step Up at Dow Jones

I just walked into the office a few minutes ago and heard about the announcement that Factiva CEO Clare Hart is moving up in the Dow Jones world. Per the press release she is now a Dow Jones EVP and becomes President of an entity called Dow Jones Enterprise Media. Claude Green, currently Deputy CEO, will become Interim CEO, while Clare now becomes chair of Factiva's board, formerly Gordon Crovitz' position in the Factiva structure.

I will be learning more about this tomorrow, but a few just-in-the-door observations:

- While Factiva has not performed astoundingly well financially, there's no doubt that Clare carved a new and financially viable entity out of some very fragmented pieces and drew together disparate cultures into a much more powerful whole and energized what were two relatively sleepy products into a cohesive whole that has strong brand identity. These are skills that are about to be put to a greater test.
- The label "Dow Jones Enterprise Media" is a very telling label, one that I am sure that we're going to be hearing a lot of buzz (and some hype) about in the weeks ahead. Clearly the core of the Dow Jones market is enterprise based, either taking their feeds institutionally or Wall Street Journal-family products individually. The move in enterprises towards individuals being empowered as content purchasers for solutions larger than a newspaper subscription creates a great opportunity for a vendor such as Dow Jones with two great brands that resonate in the corporate space strongly to create an entity that includes WSJ and other media components and Factiva's increasingly sophisticated infrastructure. This will create a sum of the parts that's definitely greater than the whole. Think of it as Yahoo! for business, coming to a portal, Web service or feed near you.
- The "Interim CEO" label for Claude Green is the key teller on this. Integrating DJ and Factiva cultures is going to be in some ways more tricky than integrating the old Dow Jones Interactive crew and the former Reuters Business Briefing team. At least in that instance Clare was dealing with products that had similar market objective. Adapting a media company to the needs of technology-intense corporations is no easy task, as publishers focusing on rich data will be quick to tell you. But clearly the receptivity for a variety of content monetization models behind the firewall is increasing, including the opportunities for ad-supported content and other contextual monetization schemes. So merging the media business on some level with Factiva's largely subscription-based database business at this time makes eminent sense. Having an Interim CEO indicates that Clare will be working full-time on this cultural integration while Claude focuses on ensuring that Factiva's wide plate of initiatives remain in motion.

I'll update on this tomorrow, but my guess is that this is the outlines of the story in general. Exciting times.
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